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How would Richard Dawkins improve a squirrel’s tail?

File:Gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in Boston Public Garden September 2010.jpg

Know a way to improve this species? Keep it to yourself.

David Shormann of Dive into Math, a boost-your-math-marks site, was reading about Dawkins’ recent genetic fundamentalist rant and quotes him,

”Genes that happen to cause slight improvements in squirrel eyes or tails or behaviour patterns are passed on because individual squirrels bearing those improving genes survive at the expense of individuals lacking them. To say that genes improve the survival of groups of squirrels is a mighty stretch.”

And Shormann asks, in response,

I wonder if he could describe what a “slight improvement” in a squirrel’s tail would look like. Longer? Shorter? Fluffier? Less Fluffy? Maybe he will write a paper on the “evolution of the fluffy tail gene in squirrels.”

Those of us who live in zones where gray squirrels are a serious foe of gardens hope that Dawkins will refrain from offering any improvements whatever. Many residents of such regions would be far more interested in science developing a selfish gene (or meme) that causes most squirrels to chitter off into the trackless wilderness and teach all their offspring to do the same. There will still be plenty enough squirrels for the tourists. (Because lots of squirrels won’t get the message anyway.)

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2 Responses to How would Richard Dawkins improve a squirrel’s tail?

  1. You could always way to hang by it from trees. Or perhaps a scorpion’s stinger, and maybe a flipper for better swimming. Since evolution can do anything, why not all three?

    Somebody needs to check the captcha. My previous question was 7 – [ ] = null.

  2. JoeCoder,

    Maybe the captcha is British! :-)

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